RTNDA: ID Corporate VNRs

The Federal Communications Commission does not require broadcasters to identify corporate video-news releases so long as they have not been directly paid to run them, but the Radio-Television News Directors Association said they must identify them anyway.

The Radio-Television News Directors Association made that clear to members gathered in Las Vegas for their annual convention this week.

According to RTNDA guidelines on VNR's, "journalists must Clearly disclose the origin of information and label all material provided by outsiders." They must already do that for any VNR dealing with political or controversial issues, the FCC reminded them last week.

But journalists' responsibility does not stop with slapping on a disclaimer, RTNDA says.

Station news executives should also:

1) Determine whether the station could get the video or audio themselves rather than via a VNR.

2) Determine if interviews follow the same standards regarding conflicts of interest as used in the newsroom.

3) Try to determine whether the editorial process is in sync with those of the newsroom before re-voicing and airing packaged VNRs.

4) Question the source of network feed video other than the network’s news operation. 

 5) Consider how and if VRN's from nonprofits, charitable and educational institutions will be used.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.